Technology and multimedia are important components of any online study experience. Technology and multimedia have large impact on online learning environments because of how they can be used to bridge the separation between teachers and students. For any sort of distance learning to take place it is necessary, by definition, that ‘interactive telecommunications systems are used to connect learners, resources, and instructors’ (Simonson et al., 2012, p.32). Technology and multimedia are the connectors for online education.
I believe the most important consideration for an online instructor before implementing technology in a course should always be the course objectives. Before deciding to utilise a certain type of technology or tool in class, the instructor should be asking themselves ‘Is this the best way for me to reach the stated course objective of this class?’. Dr. Rena Paloff describes this focus on using relevant technology as the ‘judicious use of technology’ (Laureate, 2010). Conrad and Donaldson (2011) reinforce this point in saying that ‘it is the learning outcome that must be the focus of the activity, not the technological tool used to implement the activity’ (p18).
Paloff and Pratt also make an important point in their video presentation when they discuss the necessity of considering how different technologies might be experienced differently by different students (Laureate, 2010). Pratt gives an example of slow dial-up internet being a potential issue for students when content-rich multimedia is made available. Struggling with slow download speeds is something that can severely hamper student enjoyment and ease of accessibility for students. In the context of online study, where the potential exists for very international classrooms, it might be important to consider whether or not all prospective students for c lass will be studying from regions and countries with effective enough network access to allow full participation in class.
For me, the area of technology and multimedia that I am most excited about in relation to online learning an area we have looked at in class recently: gaming. I believe that games and simulations can be fantastic technology tools for engaging students and enhancing their learning experience. I am particularly interested in the idea of games that are popular in mainstream entertainment, and not just in education, being used to further education and learning. The level of exposure that people of all ages have nowadays to video games and simulations means that there is potential to tap into a wide market and to truly engage students in enjoyable learning experiences.
- Conrad, R., & Donaldson, J. A. (2011). Engaging the online learner: Activities and resources for creative instruction (Updated ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
- Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Enhancing the online experience [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu
- Simonson, Michael, Sharon Smaldino, Michael Albright, and Susan Zvacek (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: foundations of distance education. Boston, M.A: Pearson.